Thursday, April 21

So You're Mad at Your Real Life

Let's just say Monday was not my favorite day ever.

It got so bad, that we packed a quick lunch and bolted out the door to who knows where, skipping naps and everything. I could not stay home amidst the frustrating attitudes and actions displayed by a couple of the kids. I was also upset at myself for not handling it better. 

We did absolutely nothing except drive around, take in some scenery we've seen a thousand times, and stop at church to go to the bathroom and play on the lawn. Free therapy, I tell you. It was just enough time for me to truly think about why I was so disillusioned with it all, and to talk to God about it.

What exactly was my problem? Yeah, 8 kids is a lot. Yeah, some of the kids have "unique" needs with repetitive issues that test me to the core. But where was my long-suffering, love, joy, and patience (among other things)?

I pinned down the truth of it. I was mad. Mad that this is my life. Mad that tension headaches are a daily occurrence. Mad that what God called us to as a family is so darn hard. 

Have you ever been downright mad that your current circumstances are your actual real life? Like not just for a week or two, but your honest-to-goodness, somebody-please-send-a-nanny-or-three season of life? Perhaps years of life? 


But at the very same time, the very same people who are contributing to our "mad at my real life" state of mind also make us gloriously thankful. It's this interesting mix. At times I want to run far, far away, but I never do because I love them so, so much. Plus, they're watching me. I want them to see how a struggling believer hangs in there for the long-haul.

When giving thanks in all circumstances is the bar set in Scripture, one can get to feeling pretty guilty about being mad at anything placed in our life by the Lord. Especially our kids. 

At the end of the day, a drive-thru vanilla latte helped, as did blasting the Tony Bennett station during and after dinner. Watching the young ones sway to the crooners helped too. But what really helped is my husband. 

We help each other see. 

That night he helped me see that it's normal to be mad at your right now life at times. 

Even Jesus asked the Father if there was any other way their goal of saving humanity could be accomplished. Does it have to be this? This cross? This pain?

In most cases, the Father says, "Yes. It does." Just like he did with Jesus. 

Our right now life might be the way through this season or this frustration. Much to our chagrin, we have to go through to get to the other side. 

And we can't forget that a whole lotta character is produced through these trials. (Romans 5:3-4) That's the good part we're after.

So is there any other way, God?
Maybe. But the answer might be that we need to keep going.

Saturday, April 9

Let Someone Else Praise You

One recent afternoon, as I was putting a huge pot of water to boil on the stove to start dinner, two tiny little boys I’d never seen in my life came wandering aimlessly up our driveway.

There was no mama in sight, and no car waiting like before whenever a child came to the door selling raffle tickets or magazine subscriptions. There was nobody except two mousy brown-haired boys wearing backpacks.

The older one was around six or seven, the younger didn’t look a day over five.

They came cautiously, yet confidently. At least the older brother seemed to know what he was doing.

I greeted them on the porch to save them the agony of deciding whether or not to knock on a stranger's door.

“Hi guys. What’s going on?” 

The older tiny guy proceeded to tell me their bus driver dropped them off at the wrong stop, and they didn’t know where home was. What brave little guys! I know they had walked quite a ways just to get our house because I never saw any bus.

After asking a few questions and calling their mom because oldest little dude knew his mom’s number (winning!), I figured out they were a couple miles from home. What. How this can happen is beyond me. 

After reassuring the panicked mom I was a safe person (hello, mom of eight kids), she agreed that it would be helpful if I brought them home to her instead of her coming to collect them.

I loaded them up in our 15-passenger with three of my own kids to make them feel comfortable, and headed off toward their house.

As I drove, my mom-dar was working overtime. What if they had chosen the home of a person who wouldn’t have taken good care of them? Why did the ever-lovin’ bus driver drop them off miles from home? Why did they come to our house, out of all the houses on their walk to nowhere? 

In the middle of all of these questions was also this embarrassingly telling one: What would these little boys have done without ME? 

Oops. There I go again making myself the hero.

Yeah, I called their mom to inform and reassure her and drove them home. I did the right things and thought fast on my feet. I hope any person with a heart would have done the same.

It's easy to slip into hero mode because it's tempting to want our work to be noticed and praised.

I'm not proud of it, but I'm an internal eye-roller when other people peg themselves as the hero and tell big stories touting their heroic help or good deeds in a situation.

"I did _______. And then I __________ and ______. They were so appreciative of my help. I'm just so glad I was there when I was." 

I guess it bothers me when other people praise themselves because I'm prone to do the same and dislike it so much in myself.

It's inviting, yet repulsive all at the same time. It's inviting because recognition for a job well done feels good. It's repulsive because it's pride.

We are supposed to step in. It's the way of God's people.

We do heroic things. Some of us do extremely difficult, inconvenient, and costly things in our everyday lives for the good of others.

But even then, should be we drawing attention to ourselves for it?

God's Word speaks about it in this way:

Let someone else praise you.

Such simple words. When we try to convince others of our praiseworthiness by recounting all the ways we've been plain awesome, it's awkward.

What if no one saw us and there is no chance for another person to praise us? How will they know how great we are? (You know it's true.)

If nobody hears about it, did it ever really happen? Will anyone ever know what we went through or how hard we've worked unless we tell them all about it?

Maybe not.

But is that really so bad?

The good deeds we do in secret will be rewarded by God (Matthew 6:1-4), and the good deeds someone happens to notice might be recognized here in this life.

Are we okay with that? Can we stop seeking to attract admirers? Can we recognize it as pride, and work to eradicate it from our lives as we're instructed in scripture?

It's what God is asking of us.

Do the right and noble and heroic thing.
Don't boast about it.
Do seek the reward that comes straight from God.

Let someone else praise you. One day of being plain awesome at a time.